Employee Appreciation: Tess Monks
Feb 26

Employee Appreciation: Tess Monks

By Alexa Sinatra

Phipps is well-known for our beautiful gardens, seasonal flower shows, pioneering sustainability initiative, informative educational programs and community outreach. None of our work would be possible without the knowledge and dedication of our employees. There is a wide array of departments at Phipps, each playing an integral role in creating a wonderful experience for our guests. In this series of profiles, we meet some of our employees and get a glimpse into what they do to make Phipps possible.

After growing up in a rural area, a love for nature was instilled in Botany Hall Kitchen manager Tess Monks. Once she graduated with a degree in marketing and communication from Clarion University, she found herself in pittsburgh's non-profit sector where she started gaining management experience right away. While living in Pittsburgh, she began feeling homesick and longing for green spaces. Luckily, Phipps connected Tess back to nature and provided her with an atmosphere that she saw herself thriving in! 5 and a half years later and she has continued to do just that. 

“As the Botany Hall Teaching Kitchen Manager, every day is different! Some days I’m testing recipes, some days I’m meeting with chefs and culinary educators and some days I’m running around the city looking for 18 perfectly ripe mangoes!", says Tess. This variety always keeps the workdays fresh and exciting. In managing the teaching kitchen, Tess gets the opportunity to meet so many innovative and creative people in the food industry. As Pittsburgh expands as a hot spot for foodies and restaurateurs, she continues to make more and more inspiring connections!

Outside of work, Tess enjoys spending time in nature and discovering new trails to hike. She also loves music, and you can often find her hunting for vinyl or out at a show! Her favorite memory at Phipps was in 2022 when her and her team created a cooking series in response to the pandemic. The team worked with UPMC Hospice to create a series called “Cooking for One” which was designed to encourage healthy cooking for bereaved persons who lost their lifelong partners. Participants learned grief management strategies through culinary skills and comforting recipes. She says, “It was a great example of the power of food and it was really rewarding to be a part of!”